To meet the great challenge of doubling the number of Deeptech startups in France, the government in partnership with Bpifrance has launched the i-PhD competition, as part of the Deeptech Plan. It aims to reward young researchers with entrepreneurial projects mobilizing breakthrough technologies.


The competition is part of the continuum of innovation competitions (upstream of the i-Lab innovation competition and i-Nov innovation competition).

It is reserved for young researchers or PhD students who wish to create or co-create a deeptech startup based on their research results:

  • Young Doctor“: from the second year of their thesis or Doctors who have defended for less than five years at the deadline for submitting applications. There are no nationality or age requirements for applicants, provided they meet the legal and regulatory requirements for setting up a business in France.
  • valuing search results”: means with a public research laboratory that supports the project by contributing the results of its research work.
  • Supported in the entrepreneurial structure of their project” via support and/or financial support, by a specialized structure such as OTT (Technology Transfer Organization) or public research incubator.

It is important for a young researcher, Doctor to be accompanied by a laboratory before being able to present his file to an STT or a public research incubator.


A first evaluation of the files is done following the closing of the call for applications, based on the documents sent by the candidate. The objective is to validate eligibility for the competition application.

Following this, in May, the jury of the i-PhD competition will be held, made up of entrepreneurs, investment professionals and start-up support professionals. The jury will select the winners and the grand prizes of the competition.

The assessment will take into account, on the one hand, the ability to significantly advance technological maturity (progress already obtained and expected progress) and, on the other hand, the potential for valorization of the technology in the form of a deeptech startup. This evaluation will be supplemented by the associated means of implementation: the entrepreneurial motivation of the young doctor, the laboratory resources mobilized to support the project, the support of the OTT or the public research incubator.


  • 1 year of individual and collective support, combining mentoring, coaching and immersive highlights in the Deeptech ecosystem
  • Integration into the network of innovation competition winners, the Bpifrance network and benefit from high visibility (press articles, interviews, podcasts, testimonial videos and pitches at events, etc.);
  • Reserved access, subject to favorable examination of the file, to a grant of up to €30,000, which may cover up to 90% of the projected eligible expenses of the project for natural persons (70% for legal persons);